The use of ALT text is a known and used method to inbox. You should always have it as part of your campaigns. The ALT text of an image is displayed when that image is blocked, allowing marketers to convey the key point or substance of that image. Most ESPs provide the ALT text versions of all your HTML campaigns automatically and all savvy marketers take advantage. In fact, according to Litmus in their end of 2017 report on creative design, the percentage of brands that always use ALT text increased 22% from 2016 to 2017.
The reasons for using ALT text are straight-forward:
Many email clients (like Gmail often) block images by default. In some cases, instead of showing the image, the email client will instead display the ALT text. The ALT text can help communicate the message even if the images cannot.
Most email providers allow their users the ability to block images for anyone not in their safe senders list.
In situations where images can’t or won’t load due to a bad connection, broken link, etc., the ALT text will appear instead of the image.
Marketers and designers sensitive to the needs of visually impaired readers understand that ALT text is used by screen readers.
However, while ALT text enjoys near-universal adoption, the majority of marketers rarely or never style their ALT text, which can further improve email experiences when images are disabled.
Styling ALT text is simply a way to get fancy with your ALT text, adding a bit of inline CSS to change the font, color, size, style and weight of the ALT text.
Here are a few very cool links to Styled ALT text:
An Easter campaign created by EmailMonks using a “text egg” here.
Two Litmus Community Contest winners here.
Taking the time and energy to style the ALT text version of your email campaigns can make the difference in improving your results, as well as increasing your impact for email recipients that aren’t able or willing to “see” your HTML. However, please keep in mind that while “Styled ALT” text is a nifty technique, this is still email we’re talking about, so naturally support is a bit scattered among different email programs. You’ll have to experiment to find the right styling, but it is increasingly worth the effort.
For more information on ALT text styling and other creative ideas, a great resource is The Litmus 2017 State of Email Creative report. It looks at every facet of email design, including brand guidelines, email design approaches, various design elements, the use of one-off email designs, A/B testing, email redesign schedules, and landing page responsibilities.